Politics play a unique and critical role in the development of the kingdoms of Revival, driving much of the content players will experience. Politics in Revival offer players:
- Neighborhood Politics - Players who purchase or acquire homes will find that they can influence the development of their neighborhoods through politics
- Regional Politics - Citizens of the nation states of the world will find they can apply influence and weild power at the regional level, as influential denizens of the region.
- National Politics - Players can even vie for control of whole kingdoms, dictating the course of war, peace and development for thousands of citizens
- World Politics - For the most invested players, systems exist where they can play the game of politics at a grander level, using their political power to influence the course of events on a global scale as the shadowy powers behind kings and leaders.
Building your own House of Cards
Given the sandbox nature of Revival and our goal of players driving the course of the world, one of the questions often asked is what role do players really have, in the world? Are they simply adventurers who change the world with their deeds, or are they more than that? Can they truly mold a civilization? Can a player be a king? In a word? Yes.
Government Starts at Home
In truth there are several ways for players to wield and cultivate political power in Theleston, but perhaps the easiest way to make a mark on the development of a town or an area is to buy property there. In some ways, the citizens of Theleston practice democratic politics pervasively, in the form of community representation. You see, every neighborhood in Theleston has a Council, and it is the council that decides how the neighborhood develops.
As a member of the council, players can propose improvements to their neighborhoods, such as adding a community garden, or a security force. However, they can also propose to adopt or repeal laws. Do you want your neighborhood to be a place where it’s safe to walk at night? Do you chafe against rigid organization and want a freer, more open neighborhood? These options and more are available, for those that can move the council members to vote your way.
Citizenship is a Privilege
Of course, players with real political ambition wouldn’t stop with ruling over their neighborhood council, would they? That’s small time action, best left to folks who wish to dabble in politics. The real game is in the courts of governors and kings or in the halls of the great trade guilds. So how then, does one gain entrance to this game of heady politics where the outcome of each hand can mean life or death for scores of people? The answer is Citizenship.
Theleston is a world that has fallen and now struggles to rebuild. It is a world of city-states, with few large kingdoms and no surviving empires. As such, its surface is a web of tiny powers and principalities, each with their own political game to play. Different powers run their governments differently and gaining and wielding power is a slightly different affair for each of them. However, in every case the price of admission is citizenship; no power, no matter how small, will brook attempts by outsiders to influence their politics directly.
Instead, a player will have to acquire citizenship, whether that’s a matter of purchasing land in the area, or of diplomatically schmoozing the right people, or even of being such a paragon and champion that a town seeks you out to become a citizen. However acquired, citizenship grants players with access to the halls of power in that city-state, and from there a shrewd player can garner power and influence playing the political game of favors, spies and the subtle application of pressure. Of course, the game isn’t played the same way in every city-state and kingdom.
Some kingdoms, for example, are mostly democratic, with a parliament and regular voting on issues. In such places, a player might seek to be nominated to become a member in order to propose new laws, wielding influence and bribery to gain the notice of the power elite. In others, a single king rules and influence must be gained more subtly, through the web of favor and blackmail that is the intrigue of that particular court until the king himself considers the player a valuable adviser. In still others, might makes right, and a player might gain the throne itself through prowess of arms.
It’s Good to be King
And that is the point of the political game, right? Absolute power? In many games, the idea that you can become the literal king of a kingdom is, at best, a gimmick. You maybe get some custom armor, and a buff or something similar to give you bonuses while you hold the crown. In fact, for some of these games, you’re guaranteed to only hold the crown for a fixed amount of time. We wanted to give players the sense of struggle and joy that comes with vying for power, but we also wanted to avoid the gimmicky aspect of such a feature. We spent much time considering what it means to be the ruler of a kingdom and how this could affect a game world.
What we realized, was that the problem was two-fold: It was an issue of risk and reward. Either the prize isn’t worth the struggle, or the struggle is minor and the prize too easy to acquire. Worse, because the prizes tend to have little impact to a political world, the prizes often don’t feel worth acquiring even when they are easy to acquire.
So, to address this problem we’ve built the political systems to make it possible for players to acquire power, and even the crown, in multiple ways. All of them will require substantial effort, but they will also provide substantial benefit, from commercial and political benefits like the ability to set taxes or negotiate trade to military benefits such as the ability to declare and wage war. More than that though, they’ll come with the true obligatio of ruling. Your kingdom will have problems and woe-betide the sovereign that refuses to address them.
The key to making it work, we’ve realized, is the interaction between players and our live storytelling system. As players cultivate influence and power, the storytellers will begin to / incorporate their agendas into the larger world and respond to them, create a true political dynamic, complete with the apex prize: The crown.
But the Power Behind the King is the one to fear
Not every crown can be taken, to be fair. Some kingdoms are hereditary and relatively secure from the risks of war, but even in such places, there is room for the politically and commercially ambitious. In fact, it is no stretch to claim that in every power of Theleston, influence can be gained and used, even at a scale that can affect the course of nations. The trick is in determining how best to wield and concentrate that influence. Typically, doing so is going to require friends, or at least a common agenda.
Agendas represent the goals and aims of the powers of the world, from a king’s agenda to build toll stations along a highway, to the shadowy agenda of a cult of Gnarlathotep, seeking to corrupt the youth in the guise of building free libraries for the people, or even to the agenda of the gods and great old ones themselves. Everyone and every group has an agenda, and in a sense, politics is the interaction of these agendas. The larger or more powerful the group, the more likely they are to accomplish their agenda.
In other words, you won’t be the only one seeking power. Many who seek to win the political game will have powerful allies, but align yourself with even more powerful allies and your power can surpass even that of kings and gods.